July 6, 2017 / 6:37 AM / 2 years ago

Nishikori, Osaka keep Japanese flag flying high in SW19

Tennis - Wimbledon - London, Britain - July 5, 2017 Japan’s Kei Nishikori celebrates winning the second round match against Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky REUTERS/Toby Melville

(Reuters) - Japan continued to maintain a keen interest in both singles tournaments at Wimbledon after Kei Nishikori advanced to the third round with a win over Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky on Wednesday and Naomi Osaka followed suit in the women’s draw.

World number nine Nishikori said he wanted to “win the whole thing” after his first round win and the 27-year-old moved a step closer to achieving that goal with a hard-fought 6-4 6-7(7) 6-1 7-6(6) over the dangerous Stakhovsky.

“My opponent is a great grass court player so I had difficulty reacting to his serves but it was good I managed to win in four sets. I’m glad I’m back and healthy,” he said, adding that his lingering hip injury was not a concern.

Nishikori, who is Japan’s most successful tennis player with 11 ATP Tour titles, next faces a tricky test to overcome Spanish 18th seed Roberto Bautista Agut and advance to the fourth round for a third time since his Wimbledon debut in 2008.

Rising teenager Osaka put in an impressive performance to beat Czech 22nd seed Barbora Strycova 6-1 0-6 6-4 and will face five-time champion Venus Williams in the third round.

The duo were scheduled to meet in January’s Auckland Open but Venus withdrew through injury, and Osaka is delighted she finally has a chance to face one of her idols.

“I can’t believe I’ll be facing Venus Williams, someone I’ve been watching on TV. If it weren’t for (the Williams sisters) I wouldn’t be playing tennis. I feel like all my life I’ve been preparing for this one match. I’ll do my best,” she said.

The in-form Yuichi Sugita can become the third Japanese player to reach the third round, after managing a first ever Wimbledon win on Tuesday, if he beats France’s Adrian Mannarino on Thursday.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien

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